Officials a the World Trade Organization report that they will create a dispute settlement panel to review challenges presented by Canada and Mexico in regard the United States' country-of-origin labeling law on meat and other food products. The panel will serve as a legal review body for international trade.
Sectors in both Canada and Mexico have charged that the U.S. COOL requirements are stifling their livestock industries and limiting marketing options. Among the complaints is that U.S. meatpackers are choosing to refrain from buying animals originating from Canada or Mexico rather than go through the trouble of sorting them and labeling product to comply with COOL's rules.
For both Canadian and U.S. pork producers, this has presented several challenges as producers from the two countries have established a variety production business arrangements. Among those, some Canadian producers farrow sows and send the weaned pigs to U.S. producers who finish out and market those pigs.
In fact, even within the United States, livestock sectors are divided on their support of COOL.
"Our assessments are showing us that COOL is having a negative impact on Canadian farmers and livestock producers," Stockwell Day, Canada's minister of international trade, said in a statement. "We continue to stand up for the rights of Canadian producers during the dispute settlement process and make the case that the United States should lift these onerous requirements."
The WTO panel will determine whether COOL rules comply with U.S. WTO trade obligations. The panel is expected to issue its report next summer or early fall, according to Canadian officials. Media reports indicate the panel will issue a joint decision on the complaints of Canada and Mexico.